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U.S. Civil War

Walt Whitman, Poet of Democracy

Whitman is often touted as the best and most important poet in U.S. history, but he also worked as a teacher and a journalist. And his poetry career didn't start out particularly well. See more »

John Brown's Raid on Harper's Ferry

John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, Virginia, set out to create an armed revolution of emancipated slaves. Instead, it became a tipping point leading to the U.S. Civil War. See more »

Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation with John B. King

Secretary of Education Dr. John B. King Jr. discusses the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. See more »

U.S. Contraband Camps

When three escaped slaves showed up at a Union position during the U.S. Civil War, the decision of how to handle the situation fell to Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler. His actions led to a situation for which the government was simply not prepared. See more »

Harriet Tubman, Union Spy (Part 2)

There was a whole lot more to Harriet Tubman’s life and work than her time as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. During the United States Civil War, she worked as a Union spy, eventually earning the nickname 'General.' See more »

Harriet Tubman & the Underground Railroad (Part 1)

Most people are familiar with her involvement with the Underground Railroad, but Harriet Tubman was also a spy for the Union during the Civil War, among many other things. Untangling the truth from the myth is the trickiest part of her story. See more »

Robert Smalls: From Contraband to Congress

After his daring and impressive escape from slavery, Smalls was considered to be contraband, which was a term used for formerly enslaved people who joined the Union. But this was just the beginning of an impressive career as a free man. See more »

The Incredible Escape of Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls was born into slavery in Beaufort, South Carolina in 1839. He escaped from enslavement during the U.S. Civil War, in a particularly dramatic fashion. See more »

Louisa May Alcott

Once you examine Louisa May Alcott's life story, the inspirations for her writing become clear. Her parents were idealists who struggled to make ends meet, but above all, they prioritized their family. See more »

Plessy v. Ferguson

The ruling in this infamous Supreme Court case stated that segregation was legal as long as the separate facilities were equal. But most people are more familiar with the name of the case than with the actual events that transpired around it. See more »